Governing body for women's tennis threatens to pull out of China and cancel 10 events if it doesn't get answers over Peng Shuai's disappearance.

Governing body for women's tennis threatens to pull out of China and cancel 10 events if it doesn't get answers over Peng Shuai's disappearance.
Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai.Andy Brownbill/AP
  • Peng Shuai disappeared after accusing a former high ranking Chinese official of sexual assault.
  • The tennis star has not been heard from since November 2, and concerns are growing for her safety.

The Women's Tennis Association (WTA) has threatened to pull out of events in China if there is not a sufficient investigation into the disappearance of Peng Shuai and the allegations of sexual assault she made against a former vice premier of China.

Peng claimed in recent weeks that she had been sexually assaulted by ex-Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli.

In a lengthy post on the social media network Weibo, which has since been deleted, Peng alleged that Zhang had forced her into sex after inviting her to his home to play tennis.

Peng has not been seen in public since that post, and concerns are continually growing over her safety.

Those concerns intensified this week when an email supposedly written by Peng claiming she was well, "not missing," and simply resting at home was published by a Chinese state media outlet.


Doubts were almost immediately cast on the authenticity of the email, which was sent to WTA boss Steve Simon.

Now, Simon and the rest of the WTA has threatened to pull out of future events in China if a sufficient investigation into what happened to Peng is not made.

"We are at a crossroads with our relationship with China and operating our business over there," WTA Chief Executive Steve Simon told CNN.

"We're definitely willing to pull our business and deal with all the complications that come with it because this is certainly, this is bigger than the business.

"Women need to be respected and not censored."


The WTA has not held events in China since the start of the pandemic, but had planned to return in 2022 with 10 events.

Among the events scheduled in China is the WTA Finals tournament, the marquee year-end event in women's tennis, which is held in the city of Shenzhen.

It is not known how exactly much the events are worth financially, but in a 2018 interview Simon told the New York Times that China had made "over a $1 billion dollar commitment," to women's tennis.

Simon also said that the WTA has not spoken to Peng, despite the claims made by state media about an email being sent to him.

"We have reached out to her on every phone number and email address and other forms of contact," he said.


"There's so many digital approaches to contact people these days that we have, and to date we still have not been able to get a response."

Other figures in the world of tennis have voiced their concerns over Peng's safety including 23-time Grand Slam winner Serena Williams.

She took to Twitter on Thursday to urge people to "not stay silent."

Peng is one of China's most successful tennis players, having made a name for herself in doubles.

She has won two Grand Slams, taking home the doubles competition at Wimbledon 2013 and the 2014 French Open, playing alongside Hsieh Su-wei.


In 2014, she was ranked number one in the world in doubles.